What impresses me most is how this whisky evolves; it's incredibly complex. On the nose and palate, this is a thick, viscous, whisky with notes of sticky toffee, earthy oak, fig cake, roasted nuts, fallen fruit, pancake batter, black cherry, ripe peach, dark chocolate-covered espresso bean, polished leather, tobacco, a hint of wild game, and lingering, leafy damp kiln smoke. Flavors continue on the palate long after swallowing. This is what we all hope for (and dream of) in an older whisky!
There have been some legendary Bowmores from the mid-60s and this is every bit their equal. All of them share a remarkable aroma of tropical fruit, which here moves into hallucinatory intensity: guava, mango, peach, pineapple, grapefruit. There’s a very light touch of peat smoke, more a memory of Islay than the reality. Concentrated; even at low strength the palate is silky, heady, and haunting, and lasts forever in the dry glass. A legend is born. (Eight bottles only for the U.S.) Editor's Choice.
Deep gold color. Surprisingly lively on the nose for its age. A complex array of fruit (tangerine, sultana, pink grapefruit, papaya, and the general overall citrus DNA that you’ll find in old Bowmores), with balancing notes of honey and vanilla. A hint of damp smoke and coconut. Just like with Black Bowmore, this is a texturally soothing whisky on the palate, which continues to evolve in waves -- first the sweet honey, coating vanilla, and lively fruit, then turning quite visceral, with juicy oak, damp earth, deep peat smoke, and charcoal, followed by another wave of fruit (this time, dried fruit), finishing off with subtle charred oak and roasted nuts. This whisky is better than White Bowmore, and it falls just short of Black Bowmore (which I rated 97), because it’s just a bit softer and less vibrant on the palate.
Definitely showing its age, but not in a bad way — the distillery character is still there. Solid foundation of thick, chewy toffee, old pot still rum, and fig cake. Fruity too, with notes of golden raisin and nectarine. Soft, seductive peat smoke, juicy oak, cinnamon, and brine round out the palate. Excellent balance! One of the finest Bowmore whiskies I’ve ever tasted (and, at this price, will probably never taste again.) (Editor's Pick)
The whisky is sensational, a glorious mix of ginseng syrup, baked banana, semi-dried tropical fruits, and an exotic smoked edge. Without the last, you could believe it was a delicate Cognac. In time, there’s peppermint and guava syrup. A sip is all you need to reveal perfect, thrilling harmony: light nuttiness, pollen, subtle fruits, gentle smoke, and light fungal touches. It’s stunning, but it’s £16,000! Whisky this great, even in limited quantities, should be fairly priced. Points off. £16,000
The third and most exclusive release in Bowmore’s Vault Legends Collection was matured for 50 years in bourbon hogshead #5675. The nose is fragrant and musky, slightly oily, with orange peel, developing vanilla, and green citrus notes. Intense orange and peach on the palate, with black pepper, aniseed, and sweet oak. Very persistent tangy citrus fruits through the extremely long finish. No negative tannic notes. (74 bottles)
This 18 year old is aged in a mix of bourbon barrels and oloroso sherry casks. The nose is redolent of a damped-down bonfire, with stewed fruit, wood spice, and pipe tobacco. There are red berries, subtle peat, a hint of iodine, and soft oak on the complex palate. The finish yields more tobacco, oak, rich peat, and spicy dark chocolate.
I like this Bowmore better than all the previous bourbon oak-aged, ultra-mature Bowmore whiskies that have been released over the past fifteen years (there have been several). The oak is always present, but not dominant. The whisky really evolves on the palate, just like the Black Bowmore releases. This emphasis here is on fruit, bright fruit: peach, tangerine, mango, ripe melon, and pineapple. There’s a soft, gentle side to the whisky, too, enhanced by sweeter notes of pancake syrup, orange creamsicle, and white chocolate. Heavy oak notes emerge, along with teasing, earthy smoke, to give the whisky depth and bottom notes. The smoke and oak linger long on the finish. Very contemplative. In short, an outstanding whisky, but not quite reaching the excellence of Black Bowmore.
(Allocation information: 732 bottles available worldwide; 40 bottles are being allocated for the U.S., half of the quantity of Black Bowmore which was released earlier this year.)
Signatory 35 year old 1970 vintage (distilled at Bowmore), 51.9%
Single Malt Scotch | $500
Lush, thick fruit and chewy toffee soothes the assertive notes of earthy peat and leafy bonfire. Underlying smoked nuts, brine, kalamata olives, and tobacco provide continued entertainment. A complex whisky that completely envelops the palate. This is an excellent example of a mature, sherried Bowmore.
The Whisky Exchange Masterpieces Range 18 year old 1990 vintage (distilled at Bowmore), 61.6%
Single Malt Scotch | $191.
Bowmore lovers rarely get excited about the smokiness of their favorite single malt. Rather, they obsess about the tropical fruits that some old bottlings exhibit. Here is one such example. Initially the nose suggests verjus and linseed oil, but then peachiness rather than beachiness emerges. The smoke hits first on the tongue, backed up with mango and violet, then the tropical elements and the smoke play off each other up until a guava-laden finish.
No frills here, just pure, unadulterated Bowmore. This Islay whisky speaks of its location in a very pure and natural way. I find invigorating brine, seaweed, green olive, and fishnets, along with the classic Bowmore peat smoke. All these flavors are softened by gentle vanilla and honeyed malt, while background tropical fruit add complexity.
Formerly known as Darkest, this expression was given a secondary maturation for 3 years in oloroso sherry casks. The nose features smoky caramel, dates, citrus fruits, and quite dry sherry. Dark chocolate and cocktail cherries on the rich malty palate, with peat smoke and a hint of dry oak balancing the sweet fruitiness. Sherry, brine, soft peat, oak, and allspice in the lingering finish.
Orange peel and black tea greet the nose on this mellow, ultra-aged expression, and lead to delicate notes of raisin, strawberry coulis, and a whiff of incense and light peat. An overlay of muted spice and peat hovers above the palate, which offers orange marmalade, cooked red berries, and chocolate eclair, punctuated on the finish by an appealing cigar ash note. Dessert and a fine stogie rolled into one. (Collectible)
Mahogany color. Medium to full in body, and rich. Aroma and flavors are very reminiscent of the "Black Bowmore" releases: burnt fruit, roasted nuts, fruit cake, polished leather, wood resin, and just a teasing of smoke. There is a harmonious balance between the dry oak spices and the sweet, fruity oloroso sherry notes. Soothing finish. This whisky was distilled around the same time-and is very similar in flavor profile-as the legendary "Black Bowmore" whiskies released several years ago. Comparing this release with the Black Bowmore is only natural. Having tried this whisky next to the previous Black Bowmores, I can happily say that this whisky is as good as they are (although a lot more expensive). While the original Black Bowmore whiskies are a little bigger and fuller in body (especially towards the finish), this new 1964 Vintage is a tad softer, sweeter, more rounded, and more seductive. This is a very contemplative whisky-the more attention you devote to it, the more pleasure it gives you. 300 bottles.
Bowmore Vault Edition Atlantic Sea Salt (First Release), 51.5%
Single Malt Scotch | $140
This is the first of four bottlings in the Vault Edition series and was matured in bourbon barrels in the distillery’s famous No.1 Vaults. Nectarines in brine on the nose, with iodine and sweet spices. Medium-bodied on the palate, with peaches, vanilla, salt, and slightly bitter orange. Lingering orange notes in the finish, with cocoa powder and lots of salt. This expression lives up to its name!
A great introduction to Bowmore’s single malts, and one of the best 12 year old single malt scotches around. The nose offers tropical fruit, sweet smoke, a hint of brine, new leather, and floral notes. Peaches, honey, vanilla, and more full-on smoke on the rounded palate. Brine, cocoa powder, citrus fruits, and fading woodsmoke in the finish.
Amber chestnut color. Aromas of rich sherry, ripe fruit, toffee, molasses, peat smoke, damp oak, and nuts. Medium to full in body. Its flavors start out rich and sweet, with sherried fruit, toffee, and dark chocolate. It then becomes drier with notes of peat, smoked nuts, seaweed and brine, ultimately finishing with notes of spice, bitter chocolate, and smoky smoldering embers. This is a new bottling of Bowmore 25 year old and an improved one at that. It is richer, fuller, and more balanced than its predecessor. A wonderful dram indeed. The 17 year old was my favorite of the standard Bowmore line. Not anymore.
This replaces the 17 year old in the standard Bowmore portfolio. (The 17 year old will now be Duty Free Only.) The difference is significant. This one is more sherried than the 17 year old, and it wears the sherry well. I know that many of you, like myself, adore the 17 year old. Indeed, I feel that the 17 year old displays the true essence of Bowmore. But this 18 year old integrates the sherry notes with the Bowmore signature to create a richly flavored Islay whisky experience. Thick toffee, ripe fruit, and tar-tinged smoke are accentuated by dark chocolate, cocoa powder, burnt raisin, dates, and sea salt. Long, entertaining finish.
Duncan Taylor 22 year old 1982 vintage (Cask #85013, distilled at Bowmore), 58.9%
Single Malt Scotch | $100
A very clean, elegant Bowmore with a naked beauty that shows its Islay roots. You’ll find fresh brine and seaweed on a bed of honeyed malt and soft vanilla cream. Subtle berries, citrus, and melon fruit add a complex fruit dimension. Fresh, appetizing finish. Nicely done! (Exclusive to The Party Source.)
Adelphi 12 year old 2000 vintage (distilled at Bowmore), 56.1%
Single Malt Scotch | $92
There’s a fascinating journey taking place here. The nose takes you indoors; caramelized tropical fruits, coffee cake, a spent fire in the grate, and just the merest whiff of the waves hitting the beach. The palate, however, places you squarely aboard a yacht under sail: salt spray, deck and engine oil, worn leather upholstery. It seems way more mature than 12 years. The intensity is lost with water, but you gain more smoke. A great bottling.
Matured in first-fill sherry casks, here we have Bowmore at its ballsiest, with massively bold notes of prune, dried fig, salted treacle, toffee, shoe leather, rose petal, and savory maritime edges that glance toward Marmite, all of which are infiltrated by clouds of smoke. The palate has retained sweetness, mixing black cherry, pipe tobacco, and cloves. Powerful and seriously impressive with fantastic balance that retains Bowmore identity, adds richness, ups the peatiness, and leaves you under Satan’s spell.
A. D. Rattray 18 year old (Cask #2075, distilled at Bowmore), 53.5%
Single Malt Scotch | $100
The fruit (orange marmalade, tangerine, fresh pineapple) is nearly as dominant as the leafy smoke. Sweet notes of nutty caramel, honeyed barley, toffee, and nougat round out the palate. Ginger, cinnamon, telicherry pepper, tobacco, and ash play a supporting role. Lingering fruity, smoky finish. For those who like sherried Islay whiskies.
This Bowmore has been finished in sherry casks, but without allowing the exuberance of the cask to overwhelm the dram. Instead, there’s concentrated stone fruits, lifted smoke, dried mint, dark chocolate, bitter orange peels, and some smoke. There’s a teasing hint on the tongue of tropical fruits, then a deepening mix of plump dried figs and sultana. Long, layered, with the smoke seamlessly involved, adding accents rather than fogging up proceedings. (Whisky Shop chain only) £70
A lovely example of a mature, sherried Bowmore. Its rich flavors evolve on the palate and are nicely balanced. Lush fruit, juicy oak, damp peat, and kiln smoke are peppered with cinnamon, raisins, dates, and cocoa. Warming, soothing finish. Not quite Black Bowmore, but a delicious whisky nonetheless.
Darkest now has an age statement of 15 years old. This new release is an improvement from the original Darkest, both of which are succulently sherried. It is fuller in flavor and more visceral, in both the nose and palate. These differences are subtle, but positive. Notes of lush fruit, raisin, pot-still rum, and Heath bars. Citrus and wood spices emerge, along with burning peat embers that linger on the finish. Nicely done.
Wemyss Malts Cacao Geyser (distilled at Bowmore) 1998, 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $124
Rich amber. A slight agricultural note to start, and although sweet and soft, also a little indistinct. This is a palate whisky, with plenty of integrated smoke, rich fruitcake, and, as its name suggests, plenty of chocolate. It fades quickly when neat. Water, surprisingly, rectifies this: the nose opens to show complex dark depths, while the palate is lengthened and given extra aromatic lift. Rich and rather lovely. £85
Amber-gold color. Exotic tropical fruit aromas (citrus, melon, coconut), with interwoven notes of almonds, pear, honey, and subtle peat smoke. Light to medium in body, and very delicate in nature. On the palate, the whisky begins sweet (especially honey), followed by a basket of exotic fruit and nuts similar to its aroma, becoming drier and distantly smoky on the finish. This Bowmore Fino Cask, a whisky which has aged very well indeed, is the first of three limited edition 1964 vintage Bowmore whiskies to be released over the next year. The two to follow in 2003 have been aged in bourbon oak and oloros sherry casks.
Copper color with shades of ruby. Intriguing aromas of sweet plum, grapes, citrus, peat smoke, seaweed, and brine. Full-bodied and somewhat viscous. Flavors of ripe fruit (plums, grapes, citrus), followed by a burst of more traditional Bowmore flavors (peat smoke, brine, seaweed), finishing with lingering notes of prunes, dates, baker’s chocolate, and licorice.
While there is no age statement, this whisky was aged for 12 years in bourbon barrels, followed by an additional 18 months in ruby port casks. I believe it is the first distillery bottling to marry port with the traditional flavors of an Islay whisky. Because of this, it is best to keep an open mind when trying this whisky, perhaps even having more than one go at it before rendering a verdict. I suspect the more you try Voyage, the more you will like.
Amber with orange and ruby hues. Aromas of Islay peat smoke, wine fruit, and background floral and spice notes. Flavors reveal more of what the aroma suggests-peat smoke, fruit, and floral/spice notes-with a balancing oak and subtle sea salt and seaweed. The peat smoke particularly comes in on the finish, lest one forgets where Bowmore hails from. There is no age statement on the label, but this whisky has been aged for 12 years in traditional bourbon and sherry barrels, and then finished off for 18 months in Bordeaux (Claret) wine casks. The wine fruit certainly is evident and, like the Glenmorangie Claret Wood Finish offered a year or so ago, will appeal to those with an open mind and willingness to accept new flavors in whisky. Purists will say it detracts from the distillery's character. I believe it's the first smoky whisky that attempts to marry these flavors with claret fruitiness. 480 bottles for U.S. 12,000 bottles for Travel Retail.
Blackadder 27 years old (distilled at Bowmore), 50.5%
Single Malt Scotch | $160
Amber color. Aromas of peat smoke (but more subdued than many Bowmore whiskies in their teens), toasted oak, citrus fruit, vanilla, and a hint of the sea. Its flavors are similar, which express themselves in a very mature manner-oak flavors are more dominant than other components. Still, there is an emerging brine freshness that keeps the whisky from becoming tired and dull. Good, lengthy finish.
Style: Islay single malt Scotch whisky. Availability: only 244 bottles total.
Antique gold color. Aromas of peat smoke, damp earth, exotic pepper, vanilla, and fruit. Medium body. A great balance of flavors, with a lovely Islay character. The whisky begins sweet up front, ultimately turning pleasingly dry towards the finish. In between you'll enjoy flavors of peat smoke, vanilla, spicy pepper, and delicately honeyed malt, with just a hint of the sea. What I like most about this whisky is its impeccable balance-between youth and maturity, sweetness and dryness-with just the right amount of peat smoke to declare its Islay roots without smothering its other flavors.
Wemyss Malts The Rockpool 1995 vintage (distilled at Bowmore), 57.2%
Single Malt Scotch | $180
A very solid and sound Bowmore with saline notes, some dried hot pepper, and masses of menthol, which give a buzzy, nose-cleaning effect. The smoke gently glides along throughout. The palate is quite thick and shows sweetness and a slow release of soft fruit, with a tingle of salt. The smoke slowly increases until it concentrates on the back palate, giving an effect like burning pine logs on the beach. Becomes nicely funky in time. Recommended.
The first Tempest to be imported to the U.S. Aged exclusively in first-fill bourbon casks. With the bourbon cask, and relatively young age, you can really feel all the Islay love. Bracing, with plenty of sea character, along with honeyed vanilla, citrus, floral notes (especially lavender), rumbling peat smoke, tobacco, and resinous oak on the finish. A bit steep in price for a 10 year old, but very dynamic.
Port Cask is the third and final release in Bowmore’s Vintner’s Trilogy. It was matured for 13 years in bourbon barrels, then 14 years in port pipes. Woodsmoke and blackcurrant on the mildly medicinal nose, with developing sea salt and vanilla fudge. Smoky dried fruit on the palate, with a hint of brine. Old oak, antiseptic, and black pepper in the finish.
Exclusive Malts 2001 (distilled at Bowmore), 58.4%
Single Malt Scotch | $120
A sweet start, then a sudden blast of fresh, menthol-like toothpaste (pleasant) before it dips into slightly decaying soft fruits (again, nice), a mashy note, then violet-accented smoke. Water adds some elegance and weight. This sweetness continues on the palate, where there’s toffee, raisin, ripe fruits, and slow-burning peatiness, fully integrated and ember-like on the back palate. The finish is all hot peppered mackerel. Recommended. (U.S. only)
It’s only right that the first single malt scotch given a period of time (3 years in this case) in Japanese oak (mizunara) casks is from Beam Suntory-owned Bowmore. It’s a fascinating mix of the vanilla, spice, and incense notes of mizunara and Bowmore’s distillery characteristics. You get rich peat, black pepper, apricot, and peach all playing alongside each other. The palate is clean and lighter than the nose suggests, with a fresh zestiness before the smoke leans back in.
Last year’s was a top-notch, defiantly sherried example of Bowmore. This year’s batch thrusts equally boldly, but starts in a more Japanese-accented fashion: think soy, miso paste, and salmon teriyaki. Light leather, with hickory campfire smoke coming through strongly. The big, oily, tarry palate is like a spent barbecue with a hint of skidding car tires on Bowmore High Street. So, still a belter, but why so limited? Beam Suntory, please sort it out! (6,000 bottles) £60
Matured in a port pipe. The third in a trilogy (the other two being bourbon and sherry cask-aged). I like this one better than the sherry cask 1990 vintage, but not quite as much as the bourbon cask bottling which was in our Top Ten whiskies two years ago. Lovely amber ruby color. The port flavors are obvious, but not sappy or dominating. They’re clean, and contribute a layered sweetness and ripe red berry fruit notes to the traditional, moderately peated Bowmore smoke and peat. Lingering smoke and chocolate on the finish.
Signatory 16 year old 1988 vintage (Cask #42508, distilled at Bowmore), 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $60
Medium-bodied and nicely textured. Good balance of flavors -- and well-integrated, too -- with lovely sweet notes (cereal grain, cookie dough, caramel, and vanilla cream), young heathery peat, tar, fishnets, and brine that is complementary, but not aggressive, with a suggestion of lavender and tangerine. Balanced finish. (332 bottles produced.)
Tempest to the world, Dorus Mor in the U.S., this has an intensely salty start that’s
like being slapped by a wave on Bowmore’s harbor wall. That marine note
continues: samphire, clams with a squeeze of lemon. Water brings out wet clay.
The palate is equally briny, but with a sprig of lavender, then soft fruits
wreathed in peat smoke. It’s tense and coiled, with real energy when neat, but
it’s best like that, so deal with the heat.
The ruby color gives the port maturation away, as does the nose: all plum crumble, stewed rhubarb, and caramelized orchard fruits. It’s more autumnal than jammy with hints of dusty angelica and only vestigial smoke. The palate is hot, with those hedgerow fruits and a light touch of perfumed lavender before a flock of tarry smoke appears on the finish. All well-integrated and at its best with a little water.
Bowmore 25 year old Vintage Fèis Ìle (2016 Edition), 55.7%
Single Malt Scotch | $455
This was a true double maturation: a dozen years in first-fill bourbon and then 13 years in claret. In its 20s, Bowmore tends to shed its smoke and allows the soft fruits (here, persimmon, nectarine) which have always been there to show themselves. There’s a light oiliness on the tongue. The casks have added vanilla, red fruits, and spice, but the overall impression is of harmony and integration. Lovely. (200 bottles) £350
Bw3 Elements of Islay (distilled at Bowmore), 51.6%
Single Malt Scotch | $100
This is quite a saline Bowmore, but there is sufficient sliced apple, cut flowers, and fragrant smoke to give some degree of complexity to the nose. With water you get crisp oak, roasted barley, a hint of nectarine, bison grass, and wet reeds. Starting lean in the mouth, it darkens slightly into brambles and a dusty smokiness before picking up a citric tang on the finish. Slightly muted, but well balanced. £60/500 ml
The latest addition to Bowmore’s core range is presented at the unconventional age of 9 years. Matured predominantly in oloroso sherry casks, with some bourbon cask-aged spirit thrown into the mix. The result is a whisky featuring drinking chocolate, black pepper, and soft peat on the nose. Sherry and sweet peat notes merge nicely on the palate, with dates, plums, and light caramel. Smoky brine in the medium-length finish. £30
The mid-priced Fèis Ìle release took Bowmore off into darker than usual territory. The key here was how the cask (PX is, after all, as sweet a sherry as you can find) had been so well controlled. Rather than being a thick, sweet mess, a balance was struck between the two elements: the cask added density and raisined fruit, while the distillery gave aromatic smoke and orange, and both combine to layer on molasses, leather, and dark chocolate. A success. £100
Every once in a while you get whisky where the palate is completely different than the nose. This is one of those whiskies. Aged in bourbon casks and 37 years old, its aroma expresses tropical fruits (similar to other older Bowmores), with papaya, lemon, mango, strawberry, coconut, and banana. This is balanced by vanilla, crème brûlée, honey, and just a wisp of smoke. Bowmore’s Islay roots are more expressive on the palate, which starts off sweet and slightly oily, quickly evolving to tropical fruit, damp oak, and then leafy smoke through to the finish. The sweetness emerges again towards the finish, with subtle brine and seaweed. (120 bottles for the U.S.)
Amber color. Complex, exotic aromas of vanilla fudge, coconut, white chocolate, plum, cherry, citrus, and a hint of smoke and bourbon. Light to medium in body and delicate. On the palate, there’s a brief encounter of caramel and fruits mentioned above. After that, most of the flavors come from the wood-dry vanilla, mint, layered spicy oak notes, with some smoke emerging from time to time. Dry, oaky finish. I am in love with the aroma-it’s so exotic and intriguing. I would pay just to smell this whisky. But the flavors on the palate are less exotic and more influenced by the wood.
Whisky Galore 16 year old 1987 Vintage (distilled at Bowmore), 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $74
Aged in a sherry cask, and the lush fruity notes add dimension and richness without masking the whisky’s other flavors. Its flavors are reminiscent of crumbled peat thrown over a campfire; damp earth, anise, and floral notes throughout, dovetailing with the lush sherried fruit. Smoky, briny finish. A well-rounded dram.
This vatting of three virgin oak casks and one oloroso butt was so keenly priced that it sold out in seconds, all 1,500 bottles of it. It shows Bowmore, that ever-changing, elusive Islay dram in perfumed, scented mode. I picked up vetiver (an integral part of classic male cologne), but also peach, some flamed peels, and plenty of smoke. The palate dips into the sea for a second, then again becomes scented, alongside gentle chocolate. Amazing price too. £55
Sadly, the final chapter in a series which deservedly acquired cult status because of the way it showed how well Bowmore behaved in close proximity to sherry casks. This was aged in oloroso and PX and has a thick, dark nose, all dried black fruits and saddlebags. The smoke is sotto voce. The savory nature continues on the palate. It needs water to bring out fresh fruits, and while there’s a bitterness on the end, that’s a minor cavil. £190
Hart Brothers 11 year old (distilled at Bowmore), 55.5%
Single Malt Scotch | $78
There have been some legendary Hart Brothers bottlings of Bowmore (the 1966 bottled in ’74 is a classic) so this has a lot to live up to. The nose is creamy and discreet, but Bowmore is less about charging out wreathed in smoke and more a dram where peat is part of the totality. Here you get seashells and low-tide aromas, along with green banana. The palate is gently smoked with light barley, cool melon. An afternoon dram. £50
Signatory 11 year old 1999 vintage (distilled at Bowmore), 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $55
Aged in a used bourbon barrel. Rather soft for Bowmore — especially for its age — with a gentle foundation of honey, vanilla, and malt. Interwoven notes of summer fruit, coconut, lime, and gentle peat, with teasing brine and smoke on the finish. A straightforward, unpretentious, pleasant Bowmore.
Douglas Laing Old Particular (distilled at Bowmore) 18 year old, 60.1%
Single Malt Scotch | $168
The first thing to note is the strength. It’s surprisingly not that hot initially, rather there are hints of soft orchard fruits, gentle smoke, and seashells. With water, the fruits show up—mango and peach—but the alcohol is still masking things. Water goes in immediately to produce a palate that is cool, slightly sweet, with seashore notes, wet stones, and those fruits, but there’s still a real tension to the whole experience. For the brave. £110
Bowmore 16 year old 1992 vintage Wine Cask-Matured, 53.5%
Single Malt Scotch | $120
Aged for six years in bourbon casks, then aged an additional ten years in Bordeaux wine casks. Classic Bowmore peat smoke and red berried fruit (raspberry, strawberry) are the main components of this whisky, with additional notes of plum, grape skin tannins, currant, caramel, and marzipan. Good grip from the Limousin oak (wine casks). Some brine and damp cellar notes emerged occasionally, with the smoke lingering long on the finish.
Cadenhead’s 11 year old (distilled at Bowmore), 57.5%
Single Malt Scotch | $88
Light and very creamy, with very subtle smoke in the background, this is like eating a white chocolate ice cream while walking toward a distant beach barbecue. The palate is gentle and sweet with good, refreshing saline balance. Water brings out mint. It’s just a little too tight and disconnected on the tongue.
The Exclusive Malts (distilled at Bowmore) 15 year old 1999 (cask #350), 54.2%
Single Malt Scotch | $155
Nosing this whisky, you'd never guess just how fruity it is, with barnyard hay, dry malt, honey, and light smoke. On the palate, however, the fruit is unmistakable with giant mango and apple. The mid-palate takes a sharp left turn into smoke and salt, but the mango just won't let go. A very dry, smoky finish is too dry, making the case against release at this ABV. An oddball whisky that will probably only appeal to a very narrow audience. (U.S. only)
Peerless 36 year old 1966 vintage (distilled at Bowmore), 45.3%
Single Malt Scotch | $160
Full gold color. Layers of citrus fruit on the nose (especially Seville orange, lemon, grapefruit), with just a faint hint of peat smoke and floral, herbal notes. Light to medium in body. It tastes similar in many ways to its aroma-there’s plenty of citrus fruit. The fruit comes first, followed by the classic "older Bowmore" oaky dryness. An echo of flavors repeats this sequence-first the citrus fruit, then the dry oak flavors. Some peat smoke teases in the background, but is mostly restrained. Fry, oaky, faintly peaty finish. This whisky is classic older Bowmore (30+ years), with its exotic citrus fruit, distinctive oaky dryness, and faintest hint of peat smoke.
Douglas Laing 15 year old Old Particular (distilled at Bowmore), 48.4%
Single Malt Scotch | $153
Bowmore in unusually oily guise here, with linseed oil, hot seashells, background water mint, completely integrated smoke, and a cooling note that brings to mind a lido (without any chlorine, I hasten to add). The palate has a limey lift which flows into a quite thick, creamy/oaty mid-palate, with the smoke bedding itself on the tongue. Smoky and mineralic on the finish. Water makes it even more gentle. A light expression for the early morning. £98
As cask strength examples of young Bowmore — sold at a very keen price — the small-batch Tempest range is already picking up a cult following. This third release does not disappoint in the smoke department, while the nose also shows some orange zest aromas. That said, it is a little restrained, showing its youth with a pea pod-like character on the palate, while its fruits are emerging but aren’t fully ripened. More of a strong breeze than a tempest.
Elements of Islay Bw1 (distilled at Bowmore), 52.9%
Single Malt Scotch | $85
Though the color suggests good cask activity, the initial approach shows a dram that seems slightly unfocused and youthful. There are some kernel-like cereal elements and very little smokiness, with touches of salt and oil. The feeling is that it’s only starting to blossom — and there is a floral element — and has been bottled too early. It’s all very focused, lifted, and aromatic, but when compared to the Adelphi you can’t help but wonder whether the same distillery is involved.
Wemyss Malts (distilled at Bowmore) 1982 Lochindaal Catch, 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $1113
A slightly perfumed nose offers up the slightly unusual pairing of dried lavender, sweet-cured herring, and then potpourri air freshener. This flies off to show wet dulse on warm sand. It starts sweetly with some nutmeg, then hot peppers. The smoke is very light, allowing a tantalizing glimpse of soft guava before the salinity returns. Water brings out the peat kiln but also that initial perfume. Muddled. £700
A sherry cask-matured Bowmore. Introduced as "the brother" to the 1989 vintage Bowmore released about a year ago (aged in bourbon casks). Notes of waxed fruit, dates, fruitcake, and raisin permeate through tarry rope, leather boots, wet socks, and ripe peat. Underlying notes of demerara rum, chocolate-covered coffee beans, and sea salt. A hedonistic Bowmore with an earthy, rustic demeanor. (1,800 bottles for the U.S.)